A/N: Hey guys! Sorry for the delay on this…I hate that I didn't finish before Christmas. But that computer virus I mentioned really messed up my schedule, and I had some family related emergencies that made Christmas and the last few days more hectic than usual. But now things are back on track, and I'll be finishing this up within the next day or two.
This was originally going to be a three chapter fic, but I decided to break the last chapter up into two parts…hence this one being a little shorter. Lyrics/song by Your Vegas.
Home is where the heart is
The end is where the start is
Have a happy holiday
Remember, boy, to smile when you frown
Out by the old church
I can hear them sing
Long live the king
Oh, Santa Claus, Santa Claus
There's no Christmas here anymore
Put the bells away
Burn the sleigh
Throw the presents out of my door
'Cos she's gone, gone
Everything they said was true
Christmas and me are through
Booth couldn't seem to move. His instincts were screaming at him to go after Brennan, but shame and panic paralyzed him.
This was his fault. His fault for everything that happened last year, and his fault for letting the subject remain untouched.
He'd never tried to apologize, or explain. Never even tried to make it okay.
It wasn't that Booth didn't think it had bothered her. He knew all too well how he'd treated Brennan. He knew what Brennan had told him, that rainy night in his car, had been so huge for her, and he knew how much it must have hurt her. Even now, he couldn't think of that night without feeling nauseous.
Something had happened to him. He'd gotten lost for awhile. That was the only explanation Booth could come up with for why he'd dropped Brennan off at her house after she broke down crying in his car, not following her in or even so much as calling Angela to check on her. He'd been trying so hard to bury the part of him that was in love with her that he'd inadvertently lost the ability to even be a decent friend.
It sickened him, the way he'd treated Brennan all those months, after years of trying to be one person who never hurt her. Clarity had dawned long before they got together, early enough for him to feel ashamed at the way she was trying so hard to take care of him after Hannah left.
Foolishly, Booth thought he could make up for it merely by action. He'd made sure Brennan knew he loved her, that she knew how long he'd wanted this, how happy it made him.
His mistake had been believing the present could erase the past.
Brennan's words, her tearful admission that she believed herself his second choice, had startled him. But the more Booth thought about it, the more he cursed himself for not seeing this coming, and not trying to stop it.
Booth stood outside until the cold hit him, and he dimly remembered the others, waiting upstairs.
The road was blurred in front of Brennan the whole ride to the Jeffersonian.
She hated this. Hated crying, and hated the hormones for stealing her ability to control it.
There was no logical reason for why she chose that moment to break down, why Christmas dinner and a few typical comments from her friends had provoked her to say that to Booth after promising herself she'd never bring it up.
So Brennan pulled angrily into her parking space at the lab, cursing herself for being irrational.
She had thought through everything that had happened between her and Booth, everything that had led to them being together. She knew the conditions that had made Booth want to be with her, and she had accepted that there was no changing them.
So there was no use in this behavior.
She felt oddly panicked; that was why she'd come to the lab. There was no place that made Brennan feel more competent, more controlled.
Brennan turned, blinking in surprise.
Micah was smiling at her, his eyes going slightly wide when he took in her stomach. "Guess it's been awhile, doc."
Recovering from the surprise of his presence, Brennan touched a hand automatically to her stomach. "Yes…it's important to a developing fetus that the mother gets enough rest, so Booth hasn't really allowed me to work too late." She paused, awkward. "I didn't expect you to be working on Christmas Eve."
"I'm just doing a last walk through," Micah explained. "Besides, don't anyone waiting at home…but you do." He eyed her, taking in the tears drying on Brennan's face. His face softening, Micah asked, "Everything okay?"
Brennan looked away. She started toward her office, knowing Micah would follow. "I just don't particularly enjoy Christmas dinners," Brennan stated, struggling to keep her voice steady. "My apartment felt a bit crowded, and I had some work I'd been neglecting…"
They reached her office, and Brennan settled behind her desk. Micah leaned in the doorway, quiet for a bit, watching her go through papers.
"Doc," he pointed out gently. "Your hands are shaking."
Sighing, Brennan put the papers down. For some reason, she rarely tried to hide things from Micah. But for her own sake, she couldn't rehash the details of what had just happened.
"There was a fight…" Brennan admitted quietly, her eyes on her files. "I'm not sure if it qualifies as a fight, but…I got angry. At almost everyone. Perhaps irrationally. But in any case, I just couldn't…" Her eyes filled, again. "I couldn't be there."
Micah shoved his hand in his pocket, shrugging in his quiet, unassuming way. "You know, doc, I don't know much. And the Jeffersonian isn't exactly hosting lectures on this subject." He paused, half smiling. "But seems to me that families are supposed to annoy you sometimes, get under your skin. Sometimes they're hard to be with…but it also seems like you have a lot of people who love you crowding your apartment. And annoying or not….Christmas is about being with family." He smiled a little. "Whatever that means."
Brennan's throat tightened, her father's own words from years ago echoing in her head, Being alone at Christmas means nobody loves you.
Those words had been in her head all last Christmas. This year, she didn't have to be alone. She'd chosen to leave.
Brennan wished she hadn't said anything about Hannah and proposals and second choices to Booth, but the fact remained that she had. So she had to talk to him, to reassure Booth that she didn't hold anything against him, that she had always understood the irreversible facts.
Shooting the security guard a shaky smile, Brennan stood up and pulled on the coat she'd just discarded.
She needed to go home.
The mood inside the apartment was tense when Booth reentered. The brightness of the Christmas decorations seemed vaguely obscene among the somber quiet.
Every pair of eyes snapped to Booth when he entered, taking in Brennan's absence, searching his face for explanations.
Booth found himself at a loss.
"Dad?" Parker's voice, small and uncertain, was the first to cut through the quiet. "Where's Bones?"
Booth forced himself to smile at his son, but he addressed his answer to everyone. "Bones…took off, for a little while." His voice sounded odd to his own ears, but Booth couldn't bring himself to lie. "She just…needed a little break."
Max sighed a little, troubled. "I…don't know what got into her did…did I do something?"
Booth closed his eyes briefly, swallowing an instinctual anger. He had no right that. "Yeah." He opened his eyes, gaze sweeping the crowd. "We all did."
The others exchanged bewildered glances, and Booth started to push through them, heading for the bedroom. He paused in the hallway, swiveling around. "You…you all should go ahead and eat dinner. I…Sorry."
He didn't wait for questions or protests, just stepped inside the bedroom and closed the door behind him.
Booth sat down, hard, on the edge of the bed, his whole body sagging. He pulled out his cell phone, calling Brennan even though he didn't really expect her to answer.
Soon, there was a knock on his door, and immediately after the door swung open.
For a long moment, he and Angela just looked at each other. Then, she slowly closed to door behind her. "What happened?"
"I…I don't know," Booth whispered, half truthfully. "She just…she was so upset, Angela."
Angela's eyes darkened. "About what? I mean…" She was thinking about what Booth had just said, out in the living room. "What did we all do?"
Booth lowered his eyes. It took him awhile to answer, to admit, "It was me more than anyone." He ran a hand over his face. "She…she said no one thinks she can do this." At Angela's questioning look, he clarified, "Be a good mom."
Immediately, Angela's face fell into sympathy. "Oh, God…" She exhaled slowly. "Why does she think that?"
Booth shrugged listlessly. He knew what he'd said, dozens of casual, throwaway comments or jokes he hadn't meant anything by but, in retrospect, would have slowly driven Brennan to doubt. Rather than explain it to Angela, he simply looked away, calling Brennan's phone yet again.
Only when he heard her voicemail, again, did Booth glance up; he could see it on Angela's face, the way she was remembering similar moments. Her distress evident, Angela met his eyes. "What did she say?"
Booth shook his head slightly. "Just….that everyone says things…" He lost the words to explain it; from Angela's expression, they weren't necessary. Then, hesitantly, Booth admitted, "I think the real problem is…me."
Angela stared at him for a long time, taking in the pained expression on his face.
She sat down beside him on the edge of the bed, waiting. "Why?"
It hurt to even say the words. "She…she thinks she's my second choice."
Unlike Booth, Angela seemed unsurprised by this information. Instead, she exhaled slowly, understanding settling on her face.
She fixed him with an exasperated expression, "You two have really never talked about any of that?"
Booth knew what she meant. "No," he confessed, the word soft and hollow.
"She just…she never got mad…" His voice was shaking.
"No, she was never mad at you. It wasn't that," Angela told him quietly.
They were quiet, then, the air thick with what neither was saying. Absently, Booth called Brennan again, listening to the empty dial tone.
Finally, Angela broke the silence, "So how come you aren't going after her and finally explaining why she's wrong?"
Booth's stomach clenched. "I…I don't know, I just…I feel so stupid, Ange." His voice caught, and Booth pressed his lips together. "She was talking, last week, about…about last Christmas, that it wasn't a good one." Guilt flickered briefly in Angela's eyes, answering Booth's question about the rest of the team getting together without him. "And I just thought if I could make this year really special…but I never put it together. What was really bothering her, I still never…"
"It was sweet," Angela told him gently. "This was something you two should have talked about a long time ago, probably…but she couldn't bring it up and you didn't want to. But it's only coming out now because of what all of us are making her feel."
Angela touched Booth's shoulder. "You talk to her. Then we will, too."
Booth nodded hard. He staggered to his feet, about to go after her, when the phone rang, Brennan's name flashing across the screen.
Relief coursed through him instantly, and Booth lifted the phone to his ear, voice weak as he answered, "Bones, hey, listen I-"
Angela glanced up, and she saw the moment Booth's face changed into an expression of utter incomprehension. He was quiet for a long beat, listening. His face twisted.
"I'm sorry, what?"
Someone else ran a red light.
They were speeding, no headlights on. Maybe drunk, coming home from a Christmas Eve party. Brennan had been in a hurry, but she hadn't been speeding, had merely driven through a green light as she was supposed to.
She woke up as the paramedics were removing her from her car, strapping her onto a stretcher. For a moment, pain and confusion overwhelmed her senses. She saw no faces, just flashing lights and blurs of movements. Under the distant sirens there were questions and directives being slung at her.
Can you tell me your name?
Do you know how you were injured?
Stay really still for me…
How far along is your pregnancy?
At that, panic knifed through Brennan, her hands, blood stained, leapt to her stomach, as though she could feel the extent of the damage.
"Temperance Brennan," she stammered in response to the repeated name question. "I…I need to c-call Booth, I have…I have to call him…"
"Someone will call him," the younger, female paramedic soothed her. "You just lay still, you're doing great…"
Then everything slipped away.
When the piercing ring of a cell phone cut over the sirens of the ambulance, Anna Deacon, two months into her job as a paramedic, began searching the pregnant woman's pocket for the phone.
She found it in her coat pocket, but was too late to answer the call.
3 Missed Calls: Booth was flashing across the screen.
"Booth…" she said aloud. "Was that the name she was asking for earlier?"
"Yeah, I think so…." Daniel answered distractedly. "Answer it, could be the father…"
Anna quickly dialed again, listening to the dial tone with the dread that came from giving bad news.
A/N: So. That happened again. Is it lame that perhaps I've had Brennan in a car accident two fics in a row? Perhaps. Will I keep putting her in danger until the show does it (and, let's face it, probably after)? Yes. Also this is fulfilling my own personal dream scenario of angsty pregnancy accident so…yeah. It's happening.
Also, since I never mentioned earlier, Jen's Secret Santa prompt requirements were: "Huge fight" and "Things Never Said". More of the latter, at least, when we return.